TACLOBAN CITY – The recent clashes between government forces and the New People’s Army (NPA) in Leyte are proof that remnants of the communist terrorist group are not gaining support from villagers, a Philippine Army official said on Friday.
Maj. Gen. Pio Diñoso III, commander of the Philippine Army’s 8th Infantry Division, said the gun battle is an indicator that the NPA has lost their mass base in areas where they attempt to take control.
“Firefight happens because residents have been providing information on the presence of NPA in their areas. That means they don’t have support from the community anymore,” Diñoso said in a phone interview.
Rebels in Leyte are just remnants of a guerrilla front dismantled by the Philippine Army in early 2019, official said.
“The remaining members are not organized anymore. They exist not for armed struggle, but for gain, extorting money and supplies from people,” Diñoso said.
The latest clash between soldiers and rebels in the province was on Nov. 30 in the remote areas of Rizal village, Kananga town. At least 410 persons from three sub-villages fled their homes for fear of being caught in a crossfire.
The firefight happened two days after a young female fighter of the NPA was killed in an encounter with government troops also in the outskirts of Kananga.
In the town of Carigara, the first clash this year was recorded on Sept. 30 in Caghalo village, leading to the recovery of several firearms.
In Canlampay, soldiers recovered the documents on Nov. 13 from the house of suspected NPA members Edencio and wife, Nora Dionaldo.
Government troops also rescued the couple’s seven children, including five minors, and recovered war materiel from the house.
The pursuit against suspected NPA fighters who recently abandoned a nearby lair led government troops to the house of the Dionaldo couple.
Edencio remains at-large while Nora and the couple’s eldest son, Ernie, were detained at the town’s police station.
On Nov. 17, government troops had a brief gun battle with eight rebels in Hiluctogan village.
No one was hurt from the military while bloodstains indicate casualties among rebels.
The NPA, which has been waging a five-decade armed struggle against the government, is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)